Wednesday, 4 November 2009

MY FIRST BLOG BABY

Introducing my very first Blog Baby! As I said a little while ago, I had a lovely email from a soon-to-be-for-the-first-time author, thanking me for giving good advice while she was trying to get published. Now, I'm not foolish or arrogant enough to think that I was responsible but I like to think I had at least a spectatory part in the birth and she did thank me so I must have been not entirely useless.

Anyway, less about me and more about her. Her name is Marsha Moore and below is her story. The bits in colour are where I couldn't resist interrupting. Imagine she and I are sitting in a bar drinking celebratory sparkly stuff and I've asked her to tell me what happened but I keep butting in.

(By the way, I have to warn you that Marsha has learnt absolutely sod all about shoes while reading my blog. Win some, lose some.)

Talking about winning: Marsha has a free copy of 24 Hours London AND a t-shirt to give away to one lucky reader of my blog. (For readers with an address in the UK, US or Canada. For others, you could always nominate a lucky recipient.) All you have to do is make a comment below, and Marsha will randomly pick one from a metaphorical hat and that person will be the winner. The deadline will be 24 hours after this post went out  -  so 08:00 (UK time) tomorrow.

So, here is Marsha Moore and the rather fabulous 24 Hours London. And I suppose at this point I should disclose that she's very kindly sent me a copy. But I'd already offered to host her so this cannot be described by any silly govt busy-body organisation as "undue pressure".


 
Marsha says:

"Whenever I dreamed about my publishing debut, I’d picture a pastel cover with my name written in large, whimsical font. I’d be the new (but Canadian) Sophie Kinsella of the chick-lit world, my masterpiece appearing straight at the top of the best-seller list (well, it is a fantasy after all!). I’d wear shiny Jimmy Choos (er, well you got that wrong, lady. See below, blog-readers, and be ashamed) and be on all the talk-shows. I could never have imagined that when I finally did get published, it would not be chick lit – it wouldn’t even be fiction – and I’d still be wearing my fuzzy pink (uncool) slippers in the confines of my flat. But do I care? Not a stitch!



Two years ago, when I decided to have a go at getting published, I was dead-set on writing novels. I’d worked as a journalist for both TV and newspapers, and I found sticking to the truth quite tiresome – and very limiting! Fabricating plot-lines and making characters behave any which way I wanted seemed like heaven. So did the thought of working from home, in sloppy clothes, [and slippers] with the fridge nearby.

The first novel I wrote was... well, I’ll call it a learning opportunity (although I can think of much worse things to call it!). I just wanted to see if I could do it; if I could sit still (and keep away from the fridge) long enough to write 80,000 words.  I had no story structure; I just went for it! [that'll learn you] After redrafting a few times – then getting around 30 rejections from UK agents – I decided it needed to be hidden away in a dark, dark corner, possibly never to see the light of day again. I was eager to  start another, anyway. [quite right] A few months later, I submitted my second attempt to American and UK agents. The responses were slightly more positive, [progress] but the end result was still the same: a big fat no.

It was at this point – 10 pounds heavier [thing is, I suspect you got the chocolate right but you weren't doing enough pacing around; all authors pace around, silly] and slightly worried about my sanity – that I began to seek help in the blogosphere. After reading up on story structures, editing techniques and agent queries, I felt buoyed enough to try again. Enter Novel Number 3. Another 80,000 words and desperate for some feedback, I scoured the web for a writing group in my area. I came across an advert from a woman looking to start a writer’s group in Kensington, got in touch, and we met up at a nearby coffee shop.

Here is where luck intervened: she wasn’t just another writer! She had her own publishing company and was looking for writers, particularly for non-fiction. While I wasn’t that enthusiastic about non-fiction, [no, often we're not, but it's a proper skill, easier than fiction and very very respectable, so do it, fools] I knew one thing: I really, really wanted to get published [oh hooray and hurrah, a working writer in the making] – if nothing else, to stop the pitying looks from friends and family! [thing is, now they'll pity you if you don't win the Costa Award for non-fiction or sell shedloads  -  the pitying looks never end, I'm afraid] I trotted home and wrote up a few non-fiction proposals (thanks to some great blog advice)... and several meetings later, we’d hammered out the concept of writing about all there is to do in London, hour by hour, in a guide book called 24 Hours London. I signed the contract, hardly daring to believe that I was going to be a published author! I semi-skipped down Kensington High Street (it’s hard to skip in high heels) [thank God it wasn't those slippers  -  you'd never have been signed in those] and went home to indulge in a celebratory feast of chocolate and wine with my husband. [Yay, a real writer through and through].

That was in April, and life has been a whirlwind ever since! Luckily, although I’ve only lived in London for five years, I love to explore and I’d already done a lot of research on what to do off the tourist track. I wrote the book in just over a month. Then, the hard bit began: marketing (shudder).

I never realised just how much marketing it takes to sell a book – or even to get bookstores to stock it! I’d just thought once you had a book deal, the book would magically appear on shelves up and down the country. I’d already begun wandering into Waterstone’s, picturing my travel guide nestled up against all the other lovely books that had made the cut. [Ah, we all did it. It's the steepest learning curve ever invented. It's where sheer determination and effort come up against the brick wall of chance.]

I’ve learned it’s not that easy; that there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work required by publishers and authors. I’d researched the front end of the publishing process; I just wish I had learned more about what happens after you sign the contract. [Thing is, nothing can prepare you  -  it's like childbirth, without the messy bits. Though actually it can get messy, too. There was the launch where...] Still, while it’s been a steep learning curve, [told you] I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how helpful and receptive people have been. From bloggers and my fellow expat writers to the Mayor of London’s [you're name-dropping already, dahling] press office, everyone’s been very supportive.   ‘There’s no harm in asking’ has become my new mantra!

So I’m not the new Sophie Kinsella (yet anyway – I still haven’t given up on my fiction dream! Fingers crossed for Novel Number 4). And my cover isn’t decorated with curlicues. But what the heck: I’m published! [And hooray for that!]

A big thank-you to Nicola and all the other bloggers out there who offer advice, humour and support to every kind of writer (even those with manky pink slippers!), everywhere."[well, frankly, I'm tempted to draw the line there]
 ______________________________________________________
Thank you, Marsha and good luck. By chance, I've just bought a flat in London so I'll never be stuck for things to do. [Obviously it was by chance  -  I didn't buy the flat just so I could check out the veracity of Marsha's book.] I should say, by the way, the book is a cracking idea and if there's any justice or reason it should do well. Trouble is, there is no justice or reason so you're going to have to rely on the old finger-crossing trick.

Anyone for a free copy AND t-shirt? Comment away. Anyone want to buy one? Click here.

Good luck Blog Baby No 1!

42 comments:

Flixton Mum said...

I think this is a brilliant idea for a book. My friend is doing the London Moonwalk next year (you walk 26 miles starting at midnight in your bra!!! - I can't think of any reason why she'd want to do this) but I've already told her about this book so she'll have something to do when she's finished (or if she gets bored half way round)

lacer said...

Congratulations Marsha! Even though I'm a Londoner, I could do with a guide book like that!

DOT said...

Yay! Congratulations to Marsha! I don't need a guide book to London myself, and I am wary of giving it to one of my daughters - they get little enough sleep as it is without discovering more ways to have fun.

So don't enter my name, let some else win.

Catherine Hughes said...

I am determined to be blog baby number two! Well, maybe three or four or five, but I will be one, someday!

Well done Marsha; huge congratulations.

Cat x

Marsha Moore said...

Thanks everyone! And thanks to Nicola for hosting me on her blog today (despite my pink slippers!). :)

Delia Lloyd said...

This is a great story, Marsha. (And I love Nicola's interventions...I too am a fuzzy slipper kinda gal). I'm curious as to whether or not - once you landed this book deal - you were able to then go on and arrange deals for novels 1 and 2. (Great idea for a non-fiction book, btw. Wish I'd thought of it!)

Delia Lloyd
www.realdelia.com

Sulci Collective said...

24 Hour guide to London (my home turf) but the key question, is which few square inches of it houses the shop that sells such slippers?

Best of luck with it.

Marc

andewallscametumblindown said...

Are you giving the slippers away, too? No? Oh well. Congrats Marsha! ~Miriam

Sarah said...

Congrats, Marsha!

Loved the slippers. Hope you're wearing them while you work on Novel Number 4.

Marisa Birns said...

Well done Marsha! The book is a great idea. Loved reading how you reached this point. (And, Nicola, your butting in comments were very amusing!).

My secret? I am crossing my fingers that I get to live in London...soon. A family member might live there. So how apt that your book comes to show me the many ways to spend the day!

And I know the Whole Foods Store in Kensington High Street. Amazing place, though some Londoners have told me it's too expensive. But have you seen its CHOCOLATE display?

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Loved this! Really enjoyed Marsha's summary of how it happens. And her humour also! Great stuff. Thank you.

DanielB said...

Well done to Marsha. Great idea and great determination. I can't afford to live in London but I do like to visit!

Marsha Moore said...

The slippers are not for sale! I have them on right now and I suspect I'll be wearing them until they fall apart.

Thanks for all the lovely comments. Delia, novels 1 and 2 are still in hiding (rightfully so; they're dreadful). But there might be hope for the latter ones! And I'm working on the next book in the '24 Hours' series: Paris! Bring on the chocolate... and wine! But maybe not the slippers.

Deniz Bevan said...

Congratulations Marsha and good luck with Paris! I'll have to knit you some slippers with the French flag! :-)

HelenMHunt said...

What a brilliant story. Congratulations to Marsha! And well done to Nicola for being so restrained with the interruptions - they were hardly noticeable at all :)

Karen Jones Gowen said...

This was great! And so glad a US address can qualify! I hope you keep us filled in on the marketing exploits as well. Omigosh! Marketing...argh! I am always seeking for new ideas there. I like your phrase, "It doesn't hurt to ask."

Catharine Withenay said...

Congrats to Marsha!

(Love the pink, fluffy slippers. My daughter has some just the same...)

Juliet Boyd said...

Well done Marsha.

When I saw the picture of the slippers and hadn't read on, I was a little worried they were actual shoes!

Marsha Moore said...

Can I just say, I do own actual shoes. None as highly fashionable as the lovely pink slippers, though.

A big thanks again for all the nice comments! They've made my day!

Jemi Fraser said...

Congratulations on the book!! That's awesome news. Love the cover :)

Iffath♥Ahmed said...

Congratulations Marsha! Gorgie cover! :) And I love the slippers, I have a pair just like them! x

Sarah Heacox said...

Congrats! Looks like a super sweet book!

Suzie F. said...

Congratulations on the birth of your first blog baby, Nicola! Does that mean that Marsha gets to call you Mom?

Marsha, congratulations on your book, your own baby, entering the world! I'm so happy for you.

(I won't be traveling anytime soon so I'll withdraw my name as well.)

David J Griffin said...

Late for a party, as usual....

That's excellent Marsha, you must be thrilled!

:)

Lost Wanderer said...

Congratulations Marsha! I love London. I don't get to visit it as much as I would like, so whenever I go there I love to make the best of it.

Deb said...

Huge congratulations, Marsha! This sounds similar to me: I trained as a journalist but have spent many years trying to crack the women's fiction novel market to no avail. I now have 12 non-fiction books published, and yet I still keep on trying to break into fiction!

Arabella said...

Ah, yes, well, my plan is to visit London, and someday soon. I've done a lot of fake walking tours with my fingers on printed maps. Unfortunately, my favorite shoe brands haven't come out with the finger varieties just yet.

Good luck to you, Marsha. I came across your blog some time ago and found it fun to read. Blogging is funny that way; I run across your face somewhere else and think I'm seeing an old friend.

catdownunder said...

Marsha, I am homesick for London!
Satisfied? Miaou!

bookwitch said...

You haven't mentioned shoes much, really. Could you do some more?

Camille said...

Congratulations! One day I'll be in your shoes...one day. But for now the spotlight's all yours.I love London! Haven't had a chance to go but...one day.

Pippa said...

Wonderful stuff - a brimful of heart-warming moments, and truly satisfying to know you-done-it. There's hope for us all.

Personally, I'm all for fluffy pink slippers. Wool is my foot pleasure of choice and occasionly I refuse to change into real shoes when I go out on shopping jaunts in the snow. When I get to London I may be tempted to get into my Wellies instead, but no promises.

Anyhoot, knowing my luck of late, I've missed the deadline to be in the draw for your book, but I'll get a copy by hook or by crook.

Friendly wave :) and bestest of luck with sales!

Cassandra said...

Congrats to you both! If you want it bad enough, you'll find a way to make it happen!

I'm in!

J.J. Bennett said...

How exciting. I love hearing that people are getting their work published! Congrats...I love London. I just haven't been since I was 12. Maybe I need a copy?... :)

Jenzarina said...

Inspiring! Good luck with it all (very nice, eye-catching cover)

Jen

ps I want those slippers!

MK said...

Congratulations Marsha! I hope to follow in your footsteps and have my own book published one day.
Cheers!
Marianna

Rachel Fenton said...

Congratulations! What's wrong with the slippers? Imagine them with a kitten heel - they'd be hilarious!

Marsha Moore said...

I've printed off all your lovely comments and I shall sleep with them under my pillow in times of need!

Thanks again to Nicola for this great experience!

Nicola Morgan said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Marsha. And, when you've had some sleep, let me know who won the book+t-shirt. They will be agog to know!

Bethany Wiggins said...

Thank you for sharing this story! The stories of struggle and pushing forward no matter what are the most inspiring.

Jan said...

Congratulations Marsha! I hope you're going to write some sequels, this is perfect for a series :)

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Jo Schaffer said...

Congrats! (=
I'm going to be in London in two weeks!